We are concerned parents and residents of Community School District 3 ("D3") on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and other Districts in NYC. We oppose the co-location of Success Academy Charter School/Upper West Success Academy (SASC) in the Brandeis High School building on West 84th Street. We do so not because we are opposed to charter schools in principle, but because of the interrelated issues of space and location. Our opposition is based on the following:
• Elementary schools in the southern portion of D3 are overcrowded, including long waiting lists at several schools.
• The Department of Education has stated that the trend toward increasing enrollment in our District is not temporary.
• The DOE proposes to co-locate SASC in the Brandeis High School building, which is near the heart of the most overcrowded portion of the District.
• SASC's charter requires it to give admissions priority to "at risk" students (defined as those students attend a school that received an F on the Student Performance section of the DOE progress Report or English Language learners) from within and outside D3 before admitting non-at-risk students from the district.
• Given this priority, it is unreasonable to expect that SASC will accommodate any significant number of students placed on waiting lists at overcrowded D3 schools because none of the overcrowded schools received an F in Student Performance.
• Hundreds of D3 middle school seats have been repurposed in recent years to meet elementary school demand.
• DOE representatives advised that they projected an acute shortage of middle school seats in our area starting with the current third grade.
• Out-of-District students enrolled at SASC would be eligible to attend a D3 middle school, exacerbating the forecasted middle school seat shortage.
• Sharing space among high school students as old as 20 years with elementary students as young as 5 imposes unreasonable demands on administrators, educators and building personnel that would will distract teachers, administrators and others from focusing on improving student achievement and learning.
• There is a pervasive risk of age-inappropriate interactions between high school and elementary school students which compromises the educational environment offered to each.
• The DOE's co-location proposal includes spending $500,000 plus in funds allocated to improve the educational environment in the Brandeis building to retrofit it to accommodate elementary school students, including reconfiguring four rooms to construct a separate cafeteria.
• The co-location proposal would jeopardize the utility of millions of dollars of renovations and improvements to the Brandeis high school building that have already taken place.
• Available seats at the Brandeis high school building are needed to create opportunities for area high school students to attend school close to home, especially since many are precluded from attending high schools that give admissions priority to residents of other Districts.
We therefore respectfully urge the Department of Education to withdraw its proposal to co-locate Success Academy Charter School/Upper West Success Academy (“SASC") in the Brandeis High School building.